2023 Quilting Tips

Merry Christmas!  This episode of A Quilter’s Life is being published on Christmas Day, 2023!


I hope you’ve enjoyed the stories of the wonderful people behind the beautiful quilts in 2023.  I’ve gathered their tips for this episode of A Quilter’s Life.  This year we’ve heard some great tips that will help us along the way in our quilting journeys.


We start with


  • Just make it.  There’s never an ugly quilt.

This was a great tip for me as I tend to dream about what I want to make instead of getting in my sewing room and just getting to it.


  • Just try it.  No matter what it is, know it won’t be perfect, but try it.

Have you wanted to try a pattern or technique, but didn’t think you would be able to make it look right?  Well, it really can’t hurt to try and more than likely we realize we can do it and we enjoy it.


  • Never pass up an opportunity to learn something new.

I’m also finding that when we learn something new it’s not always learning something more difficult, but many times we learn a new way that is actually simpler.  Why wouldn’t we want to make our lives simpler?

  • When you get frustrated with a step in your quilting project, keep failing.  Because it helps you to figure it out, get better and learn.  Your quilts don’t need to be perfect.  And don’t compare.  Remember finished is better than perfect.


  • If it works for you don’t worry about what others say.   Enjoy the process!

Yes, enjoy the process that you’ve figured out works for you.  There’s always going to be the person that has found what works for them and they think that is the way it should be done.  It never hurts to listen to what they have to say because we can pick up tidbits of information that may work for us.  But we can just thank them and enjoy the process that works for us.

Which leads us into the next tip of 

  • Don’t be afraid to experiment and adapt.  Try a technique if you don’t like it there’s usually another way to achieve the same outcome.  Do what works for you.
  • Also, don’t be afraid to make a mistake.  You’re in charge of that.  You get to decide if you’re going to rip it out or leave it in.


  • Don’t take shortcuts.

This is especially true when we’re working on a project and we’re tired.  We know ourselves and we know when we need to do that extra step, but we just want to get it done.  Before you know it we have a date with Jack.  Taking out all the stitches with the seam ripper because we just took a shortcut and it ends up not being a short cut at all.


  • Don’t give up.  You can start on something else and come back.  Or maybe just get one block out at a time and before you know it you have the quilt done.  You will feel so accomplished when it’s finished.


But if you do need to put a project away for awhile 

  • Use cardboard tubes from foil, plastic wrap, or gift wrap to roll unfinished projects on instead of folding them.  This will keep them from getting those fold lines.


  • Starch fabric.  If blocks are wonky or not coming out the correct size – use starch. 

I think most of the quilters that are extremely accurate use starch.


  • Stay with the same brand of rules for accuracy.  

I was just comparing a couple of my rulers the other day and sure enough they were slightly off.  It’s always good to double check when you’re using rulers in a project.


  • Buy the best and cry once. 

She was talking about buying the best that you can afford.  I thought this was a cute take on the saying Measure Twice, Cut Once, which was also another tip that was given.  It’s such a basic tip, but always worth repeating.


  • Don’t start a new project until you have the other one done.

This is probably a controversial one.  Some quilters need to bounce between projects to keep them going.  For me if I get several going at the same time I don’t seem to handle it and I’ll avoid going into the sewing room.  So this was actually a good tip for me.


  • Organization: Keep your desk clean, keep everything for a project in a bin

This is a hard one for me to do.  It’s a goal, but not reached very often.


  • Work in an assembly line.

If you’re able to work this way it helps to get several blocks done in a shorter amount of time.


  • Wash fabric before use.

This is another controversial tip.  I’m not telling you what I do.  Haha  We’ll just pretend I do whatever you do.


  • Press seams

I grew up with this being very important in my sewing, but I think it makes the quilt look so much better when it’s pressed.


  • Pin, Pin, Pin

Pinning will always help those points come out beautiful or the borders to fit just right.


  • Work at your 1/4 inch seam

Whether it’s the full ¼ inch or the scant ¼ inch, continue to work at being consistent with them.


  • Don’t compare yourself to other quilters.  Make the kind of quilt you like.

Comparison steals your joy.  There are no quilt police.  Make the quilt that you want.

  • When doing applique you tend to get goobers on your iron.  You can use Magic Eraser by Mr. Clean.  You can even clean your iron while it’s hot.  She said not to use the substitutes because they will just goober your iron also, but if you do try that you can use the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to clean that off too.


  • Use a toilet brush to pick up threads on the floor.

This is one that I had never heard of before.  Evidently you can find cheap toilet brushes at the dollar store and they do an amazing job in getting all those pesky threads off the floor.

  • Take time to admire your work and enjoy it.   Great quilts can’t be rushed.  Also admire other people’s work.  You don’t have to make the same kind of quilt, but you can admire and appreciate their work.
  • Slow down for better results.  Also change your needles and rotary blades.  Will make life easier.  And when you change your blade in your rotary cutter, it helps to get those nice clean cuts.
  • When you start a project, figure out what your ultimate goal is.  It impacts how you want to quilt it.  It can also impact the piecing of your quilt.
  • Square your blocks.  This will help improve the outcome of your final quilt.
  • Learn the basics.  Then sew what you love.  Not what you think others want.


  • A longarmer said if they don’t need to block the quilt they can trim it right on the back of the longarm machine.  They have the cutting mat on the back of their longarm.  It makes for a quick trim.


  • Have fun with it.  If it feels like a job to get it done it discourages you from going into your sewing room.


  • If you’re trying to adjust your tension on your sewing machine, start by sewing a diagonal line across a square of fabric.  If you stretch it along the bias and the thread breaks on the top, that means your top thread is too tight and you need to reduce your tension.  If the thread breaks on the bottom, that means your top thread is too loose and you need to increase your tension.  If neither thread breaks or they both break, you have balanced tension.


  • Trust the process, trust yourself

Quilting does have its process.  We have so many wonderful steps to make our beautiful quilts.  We started with Just Make It and it comes back to trusting that we can make it and have these beautiful quilts to share and enjoy.

And the top tip is:

  • Just have fun with it!  

For most of us this is our hobby, our therapy.  We love our quilts and we need to have fun with the process.

I hope you heard a tip that will help you along your quilting journey.  You might even want to go back and listen to past episodes of A Quilter’s Life to hear more of why the quilters gave these tips.  They did such a better job explaining their tips, but I wanted to just give you a short compilation.

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